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Fintan O'Toole: It is not just the economy, stupid - Brexit is about belonging
There is a long-term crisis of belonging in the UK. Brexit is its most lurid symptom, but it is not a cure. Theresa May's appeal to the "precious, precious union" is mere denial about the rise of English identity. The hard Brexiteers, under the cover of nationalism, want to unleash an even more virulent form of globalisation that will destroy what is left of working-class communities.  

And yet these liars and fantasists have been allowed to own the most potent political emotions - collective pride, identity, belonging. The willingness to sacrifice economic comfort for a sense of the greater good or a higher ideal is not innately self-destructive. Nothing noble or decent is ever accomplished without it. The Right has turned it into a sharp blade and told people to cut themselves with it. Those people think they are making a sacrifice when they are merely being sacrificed. The Left has to speak, not just to their rational desire not to make themselves poorer, but to the bigger reasons why they don't think it's all about money.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2019 at 01:25:57 PM EST
Another one where I'm gonna question his reasoning. The people who voted leave were NEVER doing well economically, the leave vote was predominantly amongst the precariat and the barely managing.

This was almost exactly the same rural vote that gave Trump the Presidency, an entire segment of the elctorate who have been abandoned by most domestic politicians of all parties; Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and then Cameron had absolutely no concern for these people at all.

People who might, a generation or two ago, have had appreticeships and gained skills, peer respect and decent wages, who might have aspired to buy a house or at least a half decent council house, a car. But those jobs, those opportunities have gone, they resent having to compete for the shitty jobs, they resent that benefits that might once have enabled them to retain a certain status and dignity have been withdrawn, that they have to crawl and lick spit to get the right to queue up at the food bank.

And every (tabloid) newspaper they read tells them that it'sBrussels and the metropolitan elites who are to blame for it for brining in people who are stealing their jobs.

And then Cameron and Osborne, almost the poster boys for remote posh boys who laugh and scorn the precariat and working classes, give them a chance, in their arrogance, to kick back at the lot of them. And are then surprised when they take that chance to give it to them right in the nuts.

this wasn't people voting against their financial interests, this was people who didn't think they had anything to lose

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 23rd, 2019 at 06:26:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was a toxic combination of a brainwashed precariat out for a grumble vote, confused pensioners, a smattering of angry racists, and a good few shire Tories.

I used to live in the heart of shire country and many of my horsey neighbours voted for Brexit. I heard "But shouldn't we believe in Britain?" from them long before it became a Leaver catchphrase. The vote split the village as it did the country.

Having moved here, I've realised something interesting - the UK has no future. I mean it literally has no vision for where it wants to be ten, never mind fifty, years from now.

Europe does have a vision. You can - and probably should - argue with the details, but there's a sense that there's some sort of goal, and it may even be modestly humane one, as opposed to the excuse for outright narcissism and banditry that the US tries to sell as capitalism.

The UK only has nostalgia. The present is awful, the future is incomprehensible, so let's relive our heroic WWII victory, and hurrah for Magna Carta.

To a large extent, British identity is defined by nostalgia. It's all castles and cosy cottages - Victorian this, Georgian that, and Tudor everything else.

If you take away the UK's history you're left with a damp and rather windswept island with no idea what it wants to be when it grows up.

This was a problem in the 70s when the UK was floundering around, but Thatcher's solution made it far worse, by using the nostalgia in a very calculated way to disguise the values at the heart of the British establishment - war, violence, slavery, and fraud.

So of course the peasants are angry - and of course it's easy to make them believe Europe is the problem.

The country may or may not pull out of this Brexit tail spin in time, but it's going to take a much bigger change to give it a future.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jan 23rd, 2019 at 09:17:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And yet the UK has a pretty outstanding record in music, the arts, technological innovation and creative design more generally. Much of this may have been created by misfits and immigrants, but it was created within the society of its time.

Now we're down to the nostalgic costume drama and bellicose nationalism; rapacious disaster capitalism, exploitative marketing and fraudulent "service" industries. Much of the infrastructure and larger more successful businesses are foreign owned - many with no absolute requirement to stay in Britain.

Something has changed, and it is more than the decline of empire. The moneyed can live out their lives in the style to which they have become accustomed. The royal family and the soaps on TV can provide the circuses for the masses. But who is going to provide the bread?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 24th, 2019 at 01:17:39 AM EST
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